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Design for the Real World: Human Ecology and Social Change

4.27  ·  Rating details ·  882 ratings  ·  70 reviews
Design for the Real World has, since its first appearance twenty-five years ago, become a classic. Translated into twenty-three languages, it is one of the world's most widely read books on design. In this edition, Victor Papanek examines the attempts by designers to combat the tawdry, the unsafe, the frivolous, the useless product, once again providing a blueprint for sen ...more
Paperback, Second Edition, 416 pages
Published August 30th 2005 by Chicago Review Press (first published 1972)
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John
Sep 28, 2014 rated it liked it
What are we to make of the fact that this book, itself a designed object, written with the methodological assistance of a flow chart process, with a direct intention to fill in a clear gap in socially-aware industrial design, is a mess with abrupt shifts in topic and sudden returns to a well-worn discussions? Wouldn't such a presentation engender the criticism that presenting something so clearly important to the writer in such a way lead to undermining that very content with the dismissal that ...more
Mieczyslaw Kasprzyk
This book changed the way I taught design.
Matt McLean
There are some excellent insights in this book, especially regarding the power of and need for collaborative, multi-disciplinary teams to solve design problems facing the world, but I found Victor's tone a bit combative and I didn't particularly enjoy slogging through an excess of examples of poor design. Even so, I found myself agreeing with him wholeheartedly regarding the role of education in the lives of young designers, as well as the missive to avoid specialization.

The book is a product of
...more
Andrew Tatge
Jun 10, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Thought provoking and often impassioned but chapters can meander. The main thread of a chapter can get lost amid examples, asides etc. and finishing individual chapters was daunting because material seemed arbitrary at times. Many chapters, however, have snappy attacks on design/industrial design; every now and then there are great frameworks or explanations about design values that might stick with you long after reading.

Most of the ideas here are surprisingly prescient and jive well with huma
...more
Shreyas
Jan 22, 2017 rated it really liked it
Very enlightening design book. This book covers the very fundamental of design, as to what design should do and what roads it could pave. You are reminded of the intensely wielding power that industrial design possesses. A quote that has struck me still, after reading this book, is that unlike other fields, designers try to create new problems so that they could construct their own elegant solution towards it.

This reminds me of the fingerprint lock for mobile phones. Nobody actually wanted finge
...more
Shawna
Aug 13, 2009 rated it it was amazing
This is a must-read, not just for designers, but for anyone in a creative field. A call for ethics and pride of what you put out in the world. Something I've always admired about science (wrestling with responsibility), but hadn't seen in my field. Well, here it is.

The only drawback is that it was last updated in the 80s and so doesn't talk specifically about web design (focused more on physical product design). If anyone knows of a good "updated" design book that talks about human ecology and s
...more
James
Sep 03, 2015 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Engineers, designers
Shelves: non-fiction
If you want to design products, this book is a five. It's a bit dated in spots, but the author is dead so updates are tough. Many of the same issues still face us, crappy, wasteful buildings, poorly planned urban areas and shoddy consumer products along with the corporate apologists for this mess.

Includes how to design thoughts and methods as well as old news.
Barbara Emanuel
Nov 16, 2010 rated it did not like it
Shelves: design
"first-world" designers teaching poor "third-world" designers how to think/design... good luck to the "first-world" people who read this book and believe this is the current design reality in the world...
Vasilis
Jul 07, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: design, accessibility
Brilliant. It will change my teaching practice fundamentally.
Lee Ann
Jun 17, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: reference
Very bold thesis statement! Designers have a strong professional and even moral obligation to create items that are functional, aesthetic and well made (points for ecological sensitivity, too). They should not contribute to mindless consumerism through overbuilding or churning out endless variations of the same essential product. Wonderful sentiments indeed.
Sherry Wu
Jan 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing
“Having experienced real design work, the designer will forever after feel a little ashamed when he designs a pretty, sexy toaster.” ——Victor Papanek, Design for the Real World

Design for the Real World is one of the world’s most widely read books on design. In this book, Victor Papanek denounced marketing-driven design (e.g. obsolescence) and exposed a set of issues by irresponsible design - tawdry, frivolous, useless, unsafe, waste, pollution.

In the 2nd half of the book, he claimed that design
...more
Christopher Nilssen
Oct 31, 2017 rated it it was amazing
A kind of terrifying read once you get through it and realize that, while some things have improved, many of the most toxic elements that Papanek rails against have gotten significantly worse.

One of the recommended reads for “Human-Computer Interaction”, though would be worthwhile for any designer to at least leaf through.

In the end, the utopian ideal of designers being able to refuse work they found morally objectionable is a good one, but like most utopian ideals lives much more easily in drea
...more
Jacquie Shaw
Sep 17, 2017 rated it it was amazing
The whole time reading this book I kept wondering why it hadn't been presented to me during my time at design school. This is a fantastic read that touches on ethical and inclusive design.

Though written in the 70's I found so much of Papanek's criticism of the practice of design still — very much unfortunately — relevant.

Though some language I found was outdated in parts (I did though read an older edition I found in a second hand store)
Nick DeMarco
Jan 18, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: culture-vultures
This is the book that sent me to design school. The first page is a deadly attack on industrial design as the worst profession in the world (second only to advertising). The rest of the book is filled with hope for the potentials that design can have in shaping the world in new, positive, directions.
Peter O'Brien
Oct 19, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: smart-thinking, mta
"All men are designers. All that we do, almost all the time, is design, for design is basic to all human activity. The planning and patterning of any act towards a desired, foreseeable end constitutes the design process. Any attempt to separate design, to make it a thing-by-itself, works counter to the inherent value of design as the primary underlying matrix of life. Design is composing an epic poem, executing a mural, painting a masterpiece, writing a concerto. But design is also cleaning and ...more
Jess
Dec 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
In a world of abject want, a preoccupation with only making things pretty is a crime against humanity.

Even though this book was first published in 1985, Papanek points out problems with design that are still relevant today. Designers are still used to create products that are obsolescent. After graduating from our design degrees, we are caught in the neoliberal system of finding jobs straight after uni to earn money to pay for our food and rent (and sometimes debts). Do we question if the produc
...more
Ruiselu
Aug 30, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: not-finished
Могу сравнить эту книгу с «Дизайном повседневных вещей» Д. Нормана т.к. суть у них одинаковая. Папанек истинный патриот-американец, который за толеранстность и мир во всем мире. Человек на протяжении всей книги убеждает не зарабатывать деньги, а работать во благо общества, эксперементировать, открывать, куда-то двигаться, а не тупо следовать за модой. В этом плане у него хорошая точка зрения, он описывает все нелепости дизайнерских решений.
Перебор с мыслями насчет экологии и защиты окружающей с
...more
Farhodjon
Sep 16, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Очень длинная книга для не-дизайнера. Но, для дизайнеров книга важная, т.к. дизайнерская этика не ограничивается только рисованием интерфейсов или графиков. Важность понять вещей и людей шире очень хорошо передается в книге.
http://dmitriikuchev.ru/blog/all/desi...
Christihann
Jan 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Ho letto la versione in italiano : "Progettare per il mondo reale"(A. Mondadori, 1973), libro consigliatissimo a chi è interessato al Design e al mondo della progettazione in generale.
Katia Belobrova
Strong and evolutionary ideas, but the examples are quite too long and vapid. Their description distract from the main course of the book.
Ivan
Oct 17, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Великолепная книга. Несмотря на несколько устаревшие факты на которые ссылается автор, книга крайне актуальна и сейчас. Однозначно must read.
Iron Ic
Aug 30, 2017 rated it it was amazing
perfect book to show social responsibility aspect of design
a lot of to think of
Ola Loobeensky
Apr 23, 2013 rated it it was amazing
BUM!

"Zgodnie z oświadczeniem rzecznika z Detroit z 1971 roku przedni zderzak, który działałby przy prędkości 15 km/h, podwyższyłby cenę każdego samochodu o 500 dolarów i, co jest jeszcze bardziej zniechęcające, jego opracowanie miałoby potrwać od trzech do pięciu lat. By wykazać fałszywość tego twierdzenia skorzystałem z dwóch półek na książki o szerokości 30cm i długości 215cm. Między półkami umieściłem blisko osiemdziesiąt pustych puszek po piwie, tworząc coś w rodzaju ogromnego sandwicza w kt
...more
Ola Loobeensky
Apr 29, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
BUM!

"Zgodnie z oświadczeniem rzecznika z Detroit z 1971 roku przedni zderzak, który działałby przy prędkości 15 km/h, podwyższyłby cenę każdego samochodu o 500 dolarów i, co jest jeszcze bardziej zniechęcające, jego opracowanie miałoby potrwać od trzech do pięciu lat. By wykazać fałszywość tego twierdzenia skorzystałem z dwóch półek na książki o szerokości 30cm i długości 215cm. Między półkami umieściłem blisko osiemdziesiąt pustych puszek po piwie, tworząc coś w rodzaju ogromnego sandwicza w k
...more
Donovan Richards
The Many Hues of Charity

It’s very easy to become caught in the notion of charity equaling money. We see disasters on television and nothing seems easier than a monetary contribution from the friendly confines of our couch. Some, however, choose to dive deeper. They see a need in the community and they volunteer outside of work hours. Could we go farther? Is there a way to use your time on the clock to help those in need?

A divergent thinker, Papanek’s Design for the Real World peregrinates thro
...more
Charlie
Feb 25, 2017 rated it it was amazing
criticism at its best.
why spend your time chrome plating when the underlying mechanism doesn't serve the need nearly as well as it should?
Profit. Specializations designed around corporate profit have created a headless monster that no one who drives it can appreciate for what it is. Design should be the cross-disciplinary glue that radically improves upon thoughtless expansion and profit seeking.

it's my opinion that the auto makers have been able to get away with light aesthetic changes to a fu
...more
SooYoung
Aug 15, 2012 rated it really liked it
More or less anyone entering engineering, graphic design, marketing etc should have to read this book.

I was sold immediately when I read the preface, "Advertising design, in persuading people to buy thing they don't need, with money they don't have, in order to impress others who don't care, is probably the phoniest field in existence today."

The book goes on to talk about how poorly and dangerously designed American cars are, how foreign models are grossly out-building us, and yet for various p
...more
Christopher Edwards
Mar 01, 2014 rated it it was amazing
"Turning back to education, we find that part of the philosophical and moral bankruptcy of many design schools and universities likes in the ever-increasing trend to train students to become narrowly vertical specialists, whereas the real need is for broad, horizontal generalists or synthesists." Reads Papanek's condemnation of both design and design education and his vision and prescription for an approach to "integrated design". Writing over 30 years ago, the fact that it is only now reaching ...more
Ethan
Jul 31, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: everyone
Calling this the "classic design bible" is no stretch of the imagination. Reading this after my first year of architecture school did, and continues to, strongly influence my thinking on design. I return to this book regularly, and cite it often. It contains some truly eye-opening information, and it is a shame that, despite its publication in over 20 languages, it has not had more of an influence on design and design education. Of course everyone has jumped on the William McDonough bandwagon, b ...more
Chris Beiser
Dec 12, 2013 rated it liked it
A mixed bag: At his best, (towards the start of the book) the author has some great ideas about the responsibilities that designers have to change the world, and presents some fascinating ideas for how to do so. At his worst, he's failing to understand the economics of price discrimination, making ridiculous claims about manufacturing costs ("my students and I estimate that a television for production in Africa on a cottage basis could be done at a cost of just $30!"), promoting geodesic domes, ...more
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“Advertising design, in persuading people to buy things they don`t need, with money they don`t have, in order to impress others who don`t care, is probably the phoniest field in existence today.” 18 likes
“Design must be an innovative, highly creative, cross-disciplinary tool responsive to the needs of men. It must be more research-oriented, and we must stop defiling the earth itself with poorly-designed objects and structures.” 11 likes
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